We began our journey through the Solar System exploring the planets. We discovered that they follow certain rules. These rules say that the inner planets are small and dense while the outer planets are large and gaseous. We discovered that planets in the same part of the Solar System are alike, such as Earth and Venus, or Uranus and Neptune.
Studying the planets does not, however, conclude our journey. There are other things, other very exciting things still to explore in the Solar System. In this astronomy packet we are going to discuss the Asteroid Belt (where asteroids come from), and the Kuiper Belt and Oort cloud (where comets come from). We will then learn about the moons of our Solar System.
The Asteroid Belt:
If you traveled towards the planet Jupiter, along your way you would have to fly though an area called the Asteroid Belt. The Asteroid Belt sits between the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is a region of space where millions of rocks can be found circling the Sun. Some of these rocks are very big, like Ceres which is over 500 miles long. Others are as small as a baseball. But most are medium size, about the size of your house.
Are asteroids only found in the Asteroid Belt?
This is an important question to think about. As long as asteroids remain in the Asteroid Belt they cannot harm the Earth. It is the ones which stray from the belt which worry us. Unfortunately, not all asteroids are found in the asteroid belt. It is believed that at least 5000 asteroids have an orbit which leaves the asteroid belt, and brings them in towards the Earth. Don’t worry, the really big ones only hit the Earth about every 100 million years.
Assignment # 1:
Click Here to find the answers to the following questions:
- How do astronomers group or classify Asteroids?
- Where did the Asteroid Belt come from?
- Name the only known asteroid to have its own moon.
- Are rocky asteroids found mainly in the Inner Asteroid Belt, or the Outer Asteroid Belt?
Check your answer
- The asteroid belt is divided into an inner belt and an outer belt. The inner belt which is made up of asteroids that are within 250 million miles of the Sun contains asteroids that are made of the materials. The outer belt, which includes asteroids 250 million miles beyond the Sun, consists of rocky asteroids. These asteroids appear darker than the asteroids of the inner belt, and are rich in carbon.
- Asteroids are left over materials from the formation of the Solar System.
- Outer Asteroid Belt